The Government of Canada has announced that it has reached Agreements-in-Principle after conversations with the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and counsel for related class actions. These agreements are related to reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and compensation for harm caused by First Nations child and family services underfunding. They also include Jordan’s Principle.
The agreements include:
- $20 billion in compensation for First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon, who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022, and for their parents and caregivers. This also includes compensation for those impacted by the government’s narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017, as well as for children who did not receive or were delayed receiving an essential public service or product between April 1, 1991 and December 11, 2007. The shared goal is to achieve a settlement that can be delivered to families as soon as possible.
- Approximately $20 billion, over five years, for long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program to ensure that the discrimination found by the CHRT never repeats itself. This includes funding to support young First Nations adults aging out of the child welfare system and prevention services to build on the multi-generational cultural strengths to help children and families in staying together that will be implemented as early as April 2022. There is also new funding for on-reserve housing to support these prevention initiatives.
There is a March 31, 2022 deadline for the agreement to be finalized and the agreement must be approved by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and Federal Court.
Here are some reactions to the news:
“For too long, the Government of Canada did not adequately fund or support the wellness of First Nations families and children. First Nations leadership and advocates have long pushed the Federal Government to change these discriminatory practices. First Nations children thrive when they can stay with their families, in their communities, surrounded by their culture. No compensation amount can make up for the trauma people have experienced, but these Agreements-in-Principle acknowledge to survivors and their families the harm and pain caused by the discrimination in funding and services. The Agreements-in-Principle outline how equitable care will be funded and provided, and support First Nations-led solutions for family wellness. I thank the many partners and people that have worked to forge this fairer path that will result in a stronger and healthier country for everyone.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“From the beginning, we committed to compensating those harmed by Canada’s discriminatory funding practices, as well as to investing the necessary resources to help keep First Nations children with their families and communities. This global resolution allows us to do both. We are aware that reaching this milestone has been a long time coming for families who were torn apart, and we know that our work is not done. We will continue working with the Parties so that future generations of First Nations children will never face the same injustices – and can thrive, surrounded by their loved ones, languages and cultures.”
– The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Northern Ontario is welcoming a landmark agreement in principle with the federal government to reform First Nations child and family services. The federal government says 40-billion-dollars has been earmarked to compensate youths harmed by its underfunding of First Nations child-welfare and to reform the system over five years. Deputy Grand Chief Bobby Narcisse says NAN is particularly proud of new approaches in the agreement to challenges faced in the North — specifically directed at remoteness. Narcisse says it will enhance a program that provides essential suicide prevention supports for youth in NAN territory through long-term reform and sustainable funding.
– The Canadian Press
The full release from the Government of Canada can be found here.